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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Jul 21 2016 08:42 PM

Topics I've Started

Replacing Kiln Power Cords

12 May 2016 - 11:53 AM

There's often talk here on the forum about replacing power cords on kilns. This may be because the prongs on the cord don't match the outlet, or a longer cord is needed. It seems like a simple thing, but there are a few things you need to look for:


1. If it's a new kiln, replacing the cord on a new kiln may void the warranty unless it's done by an approved technician or with a cord from the manufacturer. True, it would be tough for them to ever find out, but it could happen if you need a tech in the future, and karma can be a real bugger. Plus it's usually easier to replace the wall outlet than change the cord. Also, changing the power cord to one with a different plug configuration or length length may void the UL listing (if the kiln has one), which may affect how your insurance company feels about the kiln. In all cases, you should check with the manufacturer first before making changes.


2. Make sure the new cord is rated for the same amperage as the old cord. Too small and you'll have a major safety issue on your hands.


3. Make sure it has the same number of prongs. Single phase kilns usually have 3 prongs- two hots and a ground. 3 phase kilns have 4 prongs- 3 hots and a ground. Some single phase kilns also have 4 prongs- 2 hots, a neutral and a ground. You cannot change this! Never snap off a grounding prong! It is very dangerous to fire a kiln that is not grounded.


4. Make sure the cord is rated for 105C/220F. This is the one that everyone overlooks. Most power cords you can get at the hardware store are only rated for 90C, which could overheat.


5. Wire it up properly. That means putting the hots, ground and neutral in the right places, as well as using the proper strain relief to hold the cord tight in the control box. Make sure all the connections are good and tight!


6. Building your own cord is often the best way to go, especially if you need a longer than normal cord. SEOOW type cords are wonderfully flexible and easy to work with. They can be purchased online from McMaster Carr or other sellers. You just have to attach the appropriate plug to the cord, which isn't all that difficult. I have found that plugs from McMaster are pretty pricey, so I usually get the plug from Ace, Lowes, etc. If ring terminals are required for the kiln connection, I recommend using high temp terminals. If the old wires have heat resistant sleeves on them, you can reuse them on the new cord if they're in good condition. Otherwise get new sleeves.


Happy wiring!




Bartlett Genesis Review

04 May 2016 - 11:45 AM

It's here! I got my new Bartlett Genesis kiln controller today. I still haven't had a chance to go through all the diagnostics info yet, but I did install it and set it up for a glaze firing with a cooling cycle, which it is firing right now.


Out of the box I was disappointed with how small the screen is. I thought it would be bigger. However, after using it for a few minutes it didn't bother me at all. It's plenty big and the 'buttons' are easy to use. The screen and entire panel has some sort of protective overlay that protects it. It feels a little odd since I'm so used to the feel of a phone touch screen, but I get that it needs to be very durable in a studio environment. The screen is very responsive.


The system for setting up a firing is a little different than the controllers we've used in the past, but it's still very simple and intuitive. From the home screen you press 'Load' and select which type of firing you want to do, either glaze, bisque, glass or custom. Then from home home screen you push edit to make changes to the program. You have the usual choices of cones and speeds, as well as a cooling cycle. The cooling cycle is full drop to 1900F, then 150 per hour to 1500F. At this point that cooling cycle cannot be changed, but I spoke with Bartlett and they're open to changing that or adding in a piggyback system where one of the 12 custom programs becomes the cooling cycle. They have actually been very receptive to feedback about programming improvements. So for now if you want a custom cooling cycle, you'll have to do it as part of a full custom ramp program.


For my firing today I just recreated the fast glaze program to cone 6 in a custom user program, with my own cooling segment added to it. Filling out a custom program is incredibly simple because it shows all of the segments on the screen all at once. You can add and delete steps as needed. Very nice. You can store 12 user programs with up to 32 segments each, so those of you that do super fancy firings (glazenerd, I'm talking to you) can do anything you can dream up. You can also put in a name for each program, so you don't have to keep a list hanging on the wall.


During the firing, the screen shows all 3 thermocouple readings as well as the current set point for the ramp. I really like this since before you would have to scroll through each reading separately.


Over all, I think it's a really great first version of a touch screen controller, especially for custom programs. Is it worth $329 to replace an old controller? That's for you to decide. Is it worth $125 to upgrade on a new kiln? Absolutely, especially since more features will be added in the future. It's Wi-Fi enabled, so software upgrades can be done easily. Bartlett said there's also talk of a phone app that will communicate with the controller, but there's a lot of liability issues related to that feature that must be dealt with before it become a reality. Currently, if you want external control then you can invest in Bartlett's KISS software.


Relay Life

03 May 2016 - 10:53 AM

Whenever I put new relays in a kiln I always write the date on them with a silver sharpie. That way if one fries out I can tell if it was an anomaly, like it happened after only a few months, or if they're old and all 3 should be replaced. While putting the new controller on my L&L E18T-3 this morning I saw the install date on my relays was 4-29-14. I do 150+ firings per year, so they've currently got 300+ firings on them. Not bad!

Bartlett Genesis

14 April 2016 - 02:49 PM



It's now available, and the price is decent. Might have to get one.....

How I Pack Pots For Shipping

02 December 2015 - 10:35 AM

Here's a series of photos showing how I pack a lidded vessel for shipping. The whole idea behind this is to create a double box type of package without actually using two boxes.


First I prepare the pot by putting a couple of layers of thin foam packing material between the upside down lid and the pot. Then I cover the piece with either bubble wrap or paper, whichever I have handy, and tape it up tight so the lid can't move. The bubble wrap/paper is just there to keep the tape off the pot. I do not ever use bubble wrap as a packing material. It's overpriced, and you have to use many layers of it for it to be effective. Foam sheets are cheaper, and do a better job of protecting lips and edges.


Attached File  Taped-Up.jpg   193.5KB   2 downloads


Then I put 3 inches or so of packing peanuts in the bottom of the box, followed by a sheet of cardboard. This, and all of the cardboard pieces I will be using, are there to keep the pot from migrating though the peanuts as the package gets jostled about in the shipping truck, as well as provide another layer of protection.


Attached File  Bottom-Baffle.jpg   168.61KB   2 downloads


Then I start adding peanuts. Once they reach about halfway up the pot, I put in the side baffles. Again, these provide a big flat surface that can't migrate through the peanuts, ensuring that the pot stays centered in the package.


Attached File  Side-Baffles.jpg   143.96KB   2 downloads


I continue filling with peanuts until they are about an inch above the pot, then add a final piece of cardboard to the top.


Attached File  Top-Baffle.jpg   141.79KB   2 downloads


Then I add more peanuts above the top cardboard baffle. Notice how they are mounded up higher than the box. This is so that I can compress them down as I tape up the box, so everything it nice and firm. During shipping the peanuts will settle a bit, so if they're not packed in super tight you'll end up with a loose packing job. Movement is what breaks things during shipping. If nothing can move, nothing will break.


Attached File  Peanuts.jpg   168.92KB   2 downloads


So there you have it. Piece of cake. I've always got odd sized boxes laying around that aren't suitable for shipping pots, so I cut those up and use them for the inner baffles. Reduce, reuse, recycle!